We vaguely remember hearing about the real-life Aron Ralston's heroic escape from the Utah wilderness in 2003. He appeared on several news and/or talk shows afterward to discuss it. And he wrote a book about it, on which this film is based, but we didn't read it. It's just as well: Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire, has created an almost flawless film in which the main character, portrayed by James Franco, is trapped and suffering in a canyon, alone, for more than five days.
We thought about one of our favorite films, Cast Away. But this is a little bit different: Tom Hanks' character was never immobilized on that island, and, though he was there for several years rather than a few days, the worst of his physical strife was knocking out a bad tooth. Mr. Ralston had to drink his own urine and cut off his own arm with a dull pocket knife just to have a hope of continuing with his life. (I don't think I'm spoiling the movie at all by giving away these grisly details).
Brooke has been to Canyonlands, in Utah, and for her it brought back terrific memories of the time she spent in that beautiful place. The sweeping shots of the desert in the film are captivating--but also frightening, given Mr. Ralston's isolation. The mutilation scene was extremely graphic and is enough to give you nausea and nightmares. As a whole, this is one of the best movies of 2010.